MCP stands for “male chauvinist pig.” The expression took hold in the late 60s and 70s and held the energy that “men were superior” and, somehow, entitled to treat women as second-class citizens. Most corporations that I worked for conducted trainings to drill bad habits out of the men to avoid sexual harassment lawsuits. Men and women alike attended the same trainings. Everyone was on the same page.
I’m aghast at the sexual harassment going on in Silicon Valley today. I would have believed that these bad and illegal behaviors would be but a distant memory. Clearly they are not.
We’re hearing about Uber, 500 StartUps (Dave McClure), and Chris Sacca (VC) who were party to sexual harassment and Ellen Pao who courageously fought Kleiner, Perkins, Elmer (a VC firm) for sexual discrimination. She lost but she made a major contribution to the cause against sexual discrimination.
Fox News has made headlines for terminating relationships with certain on-air hosts and Roger Ailes, CEO, after paying out millions of dollars in penalties to victims of sexual harassment. And, let’s not forget “America’s Dad” (NOT!) Bill Cosby who “allegedly” plied some 50 women with drugs so he could sexually assault them.
Adria Richards has been taunted for years for fighting the sexual innuendo she suffered at a technology conference by several men who, when they heard the term “dongle” (a device used to connect hardware to a computer) were suggesting crude things they’d like to do with a “dongle.” When these men were asked to leave the conference, a large number of men went on the attack. This has had a profound, negative impact on her life. This shouldn’t be–it demonstrates a level of male entitlement to say and do as they please without regard for those it harms.
Managers have a duty and an obligation to take action whenever sexual harassment or sexual discrimination becomes known. It is time to blow the dust off the old training materials. You may want to add anti-sexual harassment and discrimination statements to your business code of conduct letters that employees sign each year. If you don’t have a business code of conduct, you should put one in place.
But, above all, you need to make it clear that there is zero-tolerance for sexual harassment and sexual discrimination and encourage those who believe they are victims to speak up, not suffer in silence.
Thought For The Week
“Passion should be the fire that drives your life’s work.” – Michael Dell
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Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker, blogger and author based in Silicon Valley. He's been in the front row for the birth and evolution of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world. Since 1992, Dave Gardner has focused on making the complex simple around people, process and technology. He can be reached through his website, www.DaveGardner.biz, or via phone at +1 408-475-7068.